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Post Office boss Nick Read ‘obsessed with his pay’, claims former HR director

The former HR director of the Post Office has accused its boss, Nick Read, of being “obsessed with his pay” and repeatedly making threats to resign over the issue, in the latest development in the long-running crisis facing the organisation.

Jane Davies said chief executive Mr Read had embarked upon a “deliberate campaign to defame and ostracise” her.

The remarks were made in a letter to the Government’s Department for Business and Trade (DBT), published a week after the Post Office said Mr Read had been cleared of all misconduct claims.

Ms Davies wrote: “I joined POL (Post Office Limited) with a mandate to tackle deep-seated cultural problems within the organisation and prioritise redress for the victims of the Horizon scandal.

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“However, from the first day, I found a chief executive who was obsessed with his pay, to such an extent that it was a huge distraction from me establishing myself in my new position and performing the duties that were set out in my job description.”

She said he was offered a 5% pay rise but appeared to find it “insulting”.

“As a result, he regarded me a failure for not getting the remuneration increase,” the former chief people officer wrote in the letter.

“What followed was a deliberate campaign to defame and ostracise me.”

Post Office Horizon IT scandal
The chief executive of the Post Office has been accused by its former HR director of attempting to ‘defame and ostracise her’ (James Manning/PA)

The Post Office’s latest accounts suggest Mr Read’s pay for the 2022 to 2023 financial year totalled £570,000.

In the previous year, he was paid £816,000, the sum of a £415,000 fixed salary and £401,000 in bonus payments. The total is after he returned a £54,000 portion of his bonus that year linked to the Horizon inquiry.

Ms Davies’ letter comes a week after the Post Office confirmed that Mr Read had been cleared of all misconduct allegations, following a report into his behaviour.

An independent barrister had looked into various allegations against the chief executive, including accusations of “bullying” by former chairman Henry Staunton.

But the Post Office said the review “exonerated” him of any misconduct claims, and that he had the full backing of the board to continue to lead the business.

A spokesman for DBT said last week: “We feel this report has drawn a line under the issue and now regard the matter as closed, which allows us to turn our full attention to ensuring postmasters are compensated quickly and fairly.”

A Government Bill has been introduced to quash the convictions of subpostmasters who were wrongly convicted on the basis of faulty accounting software named Horizon.

A Post Office spokesman said: “Just last week, a highly reputable barrister produced an extensive, robust and impartial report that fully exonerated Nick Read of all the misconduct allegations levelled against him, and in so doing discredited many of the claims raised in these letters.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the barrister was fully empowered to investigate and conclude as she saw fit.

“Our focus remains on providing redress for postmasters; learning from the grievous errors of the past; and building an organisation able to meet the challenges of the future.”

The independent barrister who conducted the review, Marianne Tutin, said she conducted a “fair, thorough and proportionate” investigation.

“I was able to approach the matter in an independent way and was not placed under any pressure as to what to investigate, or not to investigate, or what findings of fact or recommendations should, or should not, be made,” she said.